Where does the term 86’d come from, and why do we use it?
I did some research on this term and found a whole lot of stories that were fun and interesting, but not sure how much is factual. I have picked the top 3 most common stories to tell you about, and I will let you decide which is true.
1. The most popular explanation I found originated from New York City, a speakeasy called Chumley, located on 86 Bedford Street. Chumely was known for its rowdy nights and many over-served guests were often thrown out aggressively. Hollywood tells it best of the times during prohibition when cops were on the payroll of bootlegged alcohol dealers. The crooked cops would warn the bar owner that they were making a raid. The cops would enter through the courtyard, and they patrons would leave out the back entrance of 86 Bedford street. From there the term began to be used for items the restaurant no longer carried.
2. The other theory I enjoyed was the old western idea that there were two types of alcohol proof that were served at bars/saloons. 100-proof was given to patrons, but if a patron became unruly or troublesome, then they were served 86-proof alcohol.
3. The final story that I found could easily seem to ring the most true, but even with this story there is still no solid correlation. This theory has to do with a type of military shorthand. Soldiers would use rotary phones, the letter “T” was located on the number eight and the letter “O” was located on the number six. This acronym means to Toss/Throw Out , so when the soldiers needed to communicate one would tell the other to 86 on the rotary phone, hence the term as it has evolved in its modern day use.
In my research I came across quite a few other stories that also could serve as an explanation to this term . None of us may actually know the real history of the word, but we all know its meaning in present day. Now we use it as a form of communicating when an item on a menu is no longer available. I hope that you found these stories just as interesting as I did.